Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65–8 BC) Carmina (manuscript)

Manuscript, copied by Bartolomeo Sanvito in Rome before 27 July 1477
On parchment; ca 104 x 77 mm

Bernardo Bembo’s library included codices of great antiquity alongside manuscripts copied for him during his lifetime. One of his favourite scribes was Bartolomeo Sanvito of Padua (1433–1509), whom he had known since his time as a student at Padua University. Bartolomeo was one of the most talented and influential scribes in Italy in the second half of the fifteenth century. He produced elegant manuscripts of classical and humanistic texts for wealthy and sophisticated patrons. His highly accomplished and graceful cursive hand was soon imitated by other scribes and helped to establish the humanistic cursive script as a formal book-hand for humanistic manuscripts of the late fifteenth century.

This tiny and plain-looking manuscript of Horace was copied by Sanvito for Bembo before 27 July 1477, as testified by the date given by Bernardo to one of his marginal notes. Its diminutive size is possibly the result of Bernardo’s specific request for a portable book for his entertainment during his frequent travelling on diplomatic missions. Despite the small dimensions, the scribe’s cursive hand is as accomplished as ever and clearly shows its influence on the design of the cursive types created by Francesco Griffo for Aldus.

MS Dd.15.13, fol. 76 verso

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